This week (October 20-26), 2013 is the 5th annual National Estate Planning Awareness Week. I will admit I had not heard of such a week until today. Upon further research, it does not seem to be all that well-publicized since its inception in 2008 when Congress declared the third week in October National Estate Planning Awareness Week. Regardless, it exists, so I might as well spread the word.
Estate planning is not just for the wealthy, and it seems many organizations and nonprofits are using this week as a time to spread the word to all Americans. Through various forms of estate planning you can handle issues such as guardianship of minor children, manage bill paying in case of sickness or death, and care for a special needs child or family member. Additionally it can provide peace of mind that your loved ones can handle your affairs not only following your death, but also in times of illness when you cannot manage your own affairs.
If you are one of the estimated 120,000,000 million Americans without an estate plan, now is the time to consider it. If you already have an estate plan, now is the time to review it and consider whether an update is appropriate. Estate plans (including beneficiary designations) should be reviewed every 5 years or so, and sooner if you have major life changes including marriage, divorce, birth of a child, or a change in financial position.